There is a lot of information out there about working with kids with different learning styles and personalities. We learn about auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners. We read about multiple intelligences and emotional IQ. We even learn about extroverted and introverted students. But what about teachers? What if a teacher falls outside of the typical bubbly, outgoing, Type A persona that dominates the field? Here is some information about recognizing and supporting introverted teachers in the classroom and school environment.
How Do You Recognize an Introverted Teacher?
Being introverted isn’t about being “shy.” Introverts can be friendly, approachable, and highly motivated to help children succeed. Introverted teachers get their energy from spending time with their own thoughts rather than being around other people. Introverted teachers are deeply reflective and often prefer doing things alone. An introverted teacher may not gain passion and energy from team meetings, time spent in the teacher’s lounge, or socializing with parents on a field trip. She may even appear disengaged from the classroom or meeting experience. This isn’t the case. Introverted teachers simply process internally rather than externally.
Introverts are great listeners and researchers. They may not energetically present their ideas or concerns during a grade-level meeting, but may bring up their thoughts at a later time. If an introverted teacher eats lunch alone, she may just be attempting to recharge before her next class.
Classroom Strengths of an Introverted Teacher
An introverted teacher may be more calm and reflective when interacting with her students. Then again, she may have just as much energy and outward enthusiasm around students (while needing ample time to reboot in private). An introvert is able to recognize and connect with other introverts because she understands that a student may need time and space away from the teacher (or classroom) to recharge or get back on track.
Introverts are great with reflection and many encourage this habit with their students. They understand that introverts like to think through things before taking action and won’t dismiss introverted students as being passive or “not team players.” You probably aren’t going to hear a lot of raised voices in a classroom run by an introverted teacher. This can provide a calm, relaxed environment for students.
Professional Development for the Introvert
Unlike many teachers, the introvert may not gain energy and excitement from being in a staff meeting or attending a conference. The tasks that teachers are asked to do in staff meetings (Think, Pair, Share! Gallery Walk! Role-Playing Scenarios!), will not appeal to an introverted teacher. She may be fine listening to the conversation and contributing verbally or in writing after some time has passed. She may prefer to be her team’s recorder/note-keeper rather than present her group’s findings to the staff. She may prefer to read professional development materials rather than engage in lengthy PD sessions with large groups.
Many extroverted teachers share their thoughts as they are thinking them through. This is the opposite for introverts. An introvert is more likely to think things through carefully before sharing her thoughts, so listen up when an introvert contributes.
A Word of Caution
When working with any teacher, it is important that a reserved personality is not confused with a lack of passion. Just because a teacher does not shout from the rooftops does NOT mean that she doesn’t care about students with every fiber of her being. Introverted teachers are passionate – they just express their passion differently, so pay attention!
If you catch an introverted teacher arriving at work early to make copies (alone!), eating lunch in their classroom (alone!), or staying late to put up a bulletin board in the hallway (again, alone!) recognize this for what it really is – an introvert’s attempt at saving energy for her students while still doing great work at her job.
Just as all students have different personalities, so do all teachers. Recognizing the strengths that introverted teachers bring to staff meetings and classrooms will support teachers as they support their students.
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